Africa’s Rich Oil: The New Political Scramble and Core Causes for Conflict around the…

first_imgThe African continent which is blessed with riches is drawing new interests from powerful and influential countries and companies around the globe owing to its resources especially the high quality of oil and wealth. These countries and major actors nowadays see the continent as the most promising place in the world for new production since it doesn’t have the huge deposits that the Middle East and Russia do, but what it does have is accessible and largely unexploited rich oil and wealth. The continent oil’s high quality makes it relatively inexpensive to refine.But most Africans are seeing little benefit from this influx of oil drillers and investment; in fact they are often hurt by exports of their countries’ oil and other riches. For instance, between 1970 and 1990, countries without oil saw their economies grow five times faster than those of countries with high quality of oil. A classical example is Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, these two neighboring countries with abundant of oil and riches are rated among the poorly nations. This is directly due to abuse of riches by the corrupt elites, politicians and foreign capitalists. Unlike part one of this article, part two of this article aims at scrutinize the fantasy  that Africa is facing a New Scramble squally due to its high eminence of oil; while at the same time analyzing the nature of economic and political changes in place across the continent. This article further deals with the importance of Africa’s riches, and the political and economic forces behind the new oil rush. It also present in-depth, incisive analysis of critical issues obtaining on the continent and beyond such as the new scramble for Africa’s richer resources, and the core causes for poverty, corruption, bad governance and sparse distribution of oil wealth.Part one which was published few months ago started with an overview of the phenomenon labeled by some as the ‘New Scramble’. The main body of the article evaluates the existence of a new scramble for the continent oil. Finally, by analyzing the likely impact on the economies of oil-rich states, this article considers whether we should dismay or rejoice over the ‘new scramble for Africa’ oil. It further wraps up that the on-going existence of a oil scramble or a US–Chinese pursuit for Africa should be treated with some caution.So far, most concerns have been focused on the struggles by external forces for Africa’s riches with the continent high quality of oil at the center of this new scramble by big powers, corrupt elites, politicians and foreign capitalists. Yet, it is important to critically examine the struggle for the control of oil in Africa, and the ways in which these connect with the broader global structures, actors and processes. This struggle has several dimensions, but it is often represented as pitching centralized control of oil revenues such as by a centralized state or dominant elite or group to the exclusion of marginalized groups or regions. The foregoing underscores the close intimacy between state and oil oriented power or agency, and the nature of the fractional squabbles over oil revenues on a national scale, which imposes centralist logic on the control and distribution of oil rents.The result of a centralist imposition of control from past experience is both the intense horizontal struggles for access to, and control of a larger share of oil rents, but more fundamentally, vertical struggles between the marginalized and oppressed groups and the corrupt foreign capitalists, egocentric politicians or oil elite privileged individuals. These struggles also underpin the privileged class formation process mostly through strategic locationing in the distributive circuits of the politics of the oil-state often carried out through primitive accumulation activities. As such the premium on controlling political power is very high. Such features can be gleaned from politics in Nigeria, Angola, Southern Sudan, Sudan, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, just among few countries. Another dimension of the struggles over oil is the relationship between foreign oil companies and national capital in African oil blessed-states, where there are also competitors in those African countries where a petro-bourgeoisie is emerging, and seeking incorporation into a transnational capitalist class. This is most visible from the policies of most African governments. This effort at building indigenous oil-elite can be gleaned from several policies intended to benefit few instead of the largest society on the continent. There is no doubt that the leverage given to most of these companies run by corrupt foreign capitalists, gluttonous politicians and advantaged elite class   has partly fed into a new kind of economic nationalism, driven by the quest for more profit and the political patronage. Theses botched policies are wholly attributing to poverty and suffering on the continent, where 60% of the population lived beyond poverty lines, latest report by the UN has said.A recent UN report shows that 85% of Africans have no access to standard pipe born water, good health care, electricity, social security benefits, sanitation facilities and good meals a day. The report further indicates that 25.8 million people of the two-thirds of the total world population suffering from HIV/AIDS live in Africa. And that Africa remains abundant in human and natural resources, but these riches especially millions generated from the sale of oil managed to enrich only a handful of African leaders and the family members, corrupt bureaucrats and their relatives and close friends, privileged individuals and foreign capitalists.The continent riches blessed with natural resources faces devastating crippling rates of poverty, hunger, and disease due to a ‘new scramble due primarily to its riches especially oil, with world’s two largest economy powers, US and China competing over access to African resources and markets. The U.S. long-standing dominance in several African countries and influence have been challenged in recent time by emerging China. Most studies explain that this is due to the changing distribution of power at several levels on the continent, while the French, British and Russia on other fronts have enforced their influences through a diplomatic tie on the continent. Most studies show that the new diplomatic maneuverings and stratagem could be several factors responsible for the continents chronic political, economic and security problems and also the infusion of violence in several African states. Several political pundits believe that China ties with some regimes on the continent and Chinese government’s aid to many African states with no strings attached policy undermine democracy, apparently can be blamed for bad governances, praetorian rule by ruling elites and vulnerability of the largest populations. But there are millions of others who hailed Sino-African partnership and believed that it results to a win-win situation, arguing that African countries stand to benefit immensely in the context of infrastructural development. However, the actual cause of the argument stands from different interpretations and perceptions, most importantly how accurate is the information they obtain or hand over to them.  Nevertheless, I am mindful against making a decision on the debates, I decided to refrain from discussing a particular case or situation in relationship to a specific African country or any of the big power since my doctorate studies in International Relations and Public Policy dissertation which contains over 500 pages discusses the subject on hand in details, with illustration, cases and references, among other acceptable standard of doctoral dissertation. The title of the dissertation is: China Strategic Oil Interest in Africa—The Sino-Africa Emerging Ties.What flows from the following is the complex architecture of the scramble for oil and its enmeshment with trans-global processes and actors. Given its place in the class struggles around in a rapidly globalizing world, oil is destined to be choice for power, influence and wealth. Whether the struggle between foreign capitalists and the ruling elite or  State/ Indigenous private oil capital, the contestations are framed within highly inequitable relations of production and distribution, which deepen existing social contradictions within Africa, and further complicate any prospects of social transformation, or the democratization of state-society smooth relations. Beijing‘s recent engagement in Africa has attracted a lot of attention and become a major economic force in Africa with a big amount of trade, investment and aid. Some critics especially from the West often use a double-standard to measure the Chinese engagement in Africa compared with the Western one. But also many people from different standpoints believe Chinese action to be beneficial to African development and help to empower the huge population on the continent. But from a critical point of views, China serves as both an opportunity and a challenge. The opposite side claims Chinese-African relations were established long before China‘s need for raw materials on the basis of mutual sympathy and common development instead of colonization.For others, Africa is frequently viewed as a loser in the process of economic globalization. Writers and authors have emphasized that Africa is of little relevance ‘because no important economic interests are greatly affected’. But Africa’s oil and gas can be one of the few outstanding exceptions to the perceived insignificance of Africa. Some capitalists  predict that the United States will soon depend on Africa for a quarter of its total crude oil imports, and Africa already accounts for more than a quarter of China’s oil imports nowadays. Oil experts have revealed that unless geologists succeed in finding new and so far unidentified provinces, consumers will all be depending on supplies from just three areas —  Africa, Russia and, most important of all, the five states around the Mideast.The present resource-rich African states and political elite may not be able to use the increased revenues from the sale of oil to transform their economies or societies, and would more likely enrich themselves and their patrimonial networks, or seek to entrench themselves in power through forceful means. The prospects of oil-rich African states emerging from the present struggle for the continent’s resources will ultimately depend of the ability of these states to transform themselves through a developmental philosophy to acts as spurs both for social and economic transformation, but perhaps more fundamentally, for the re-organization of production in the oil rich African states in the ways that lift it out of its peripheral position in the globalised division of labor. This is clear from the well-known Niger Delta crisis where the struggle by the ethnic minorities for autonomy and resource control has assumed insurgent proportions with frequent attacks on oil and government interests by well-armed militias. Apart from the militias, transnational networks trading in illegal bunkering and small arms are also involved in the struggles for oil in the Niger Delta.No doubt that oil money tends to corrupt politicians and bureaucrats whose end up fighting to pocket a share of the finite oil riches, rather than looking for ways to invest in their country’s long-term prosperity. Studies show that most oil rich’s governments aren’t dependent on income taxes and therefore don’t have to do what the citizens want, as such the state isn’t an engineer of economic growth, but a gravy train. In this case, only a limited amount of money gets down to the people.” The preceding clearly shows that although the scramble for Africa formally ended at the doorsteps of colonial rule, and independence, its spirit continues to haunt the continent as the world most powerful states, foreign capitalists, corrupt bureaucrats and egotistic actors continue to seek its resources for power, influence and domination on a  national and global scales.Although the Western development workers and Africa have been questing the way of development of Africa for a long time and have been seeking for a change, the reality is still disillusioning. The structural adjustment initiated by western government and adopted by African government seems to be a failure. The idea of turning to China as an alternative for prosperity has captured the imagination of many ordinary Africans, although others fear the threat of competition from the Chinese industrial juggernaut, and the rise of Chinese traders competing in local African markets.Majority of the crises across the African continent are direct result of the struggles for oil wealth or opposition against exclusion from resources and bad governances. The continent experienced dozen of vicious wars in several countries including the Nigeria’s Biafra war, the rebels’ war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formally Zaire), Angola, Uganda, Somalia, Ethiopian-Eritrea war, Rwanda war between the Hutu and the Tutsi, Senegal-Casamance Region, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Ivory Coast, Northern and Southern Sudan’s war, Kenya post election violence, Libyan, and now Mali, just to name few. All these wars were direct results of abused of state resources and national wealth, bad governances, corruption, class system and abused of state power and authority by handful of African leaders and foreign capitalists.ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Josephus Moses Gray holds BA and MA Degrees in Communications and International Relations. He formerly worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Assistant Minister for Public Affairs. He is a Ph.D fellow with concentration in International Relations and Public Policy. He is a graduate of the ICFA Global Journalism Program, Washington D.C., USA. He holds dozens of certificates and post-graduate diplomas in Journalism, international affairs, political, Development economics, peace studies and diplomacy from abroad including the Chinese Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, Cape Town, South Africa and Atlanta, Georgia, USA.  He has authored two books and has written extensively and published over 40  articles on contemporary issues. He can be contacted at Email: [email protected] Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Dangerous turn into graveyard sparks call for safety measures

first_imgThere have been calls for new safety measures on the road opposite Conwal Graveyard to protect mourners accessing the site.The turn for the graveyard outside Letterkenny has been labelled as a dangerous junction due to the lack of signage and lanes on the busy road.Cllr Jimmy Kavanagh called on the Letterkenny Milford Municipal District council to examine the issue and explore the possibility of widening the section of the road. The call follows an accident where a young couple’s car was hit as they attempted to turn into the graveyard entrance.“It’s amazing someone wasn’t killed,” Cllr Kavanagh told the local council meeting.In seconding the motion, Cllr Michael McBride added that drivers face a danger of being rear-ended when turning right into Conwal and there is a danger of motorcyclists overtaking.Cllr Kavanagh added that he looks forward to working with local authority engineers on the matter. Dangerous turn into graveyard sparks call for safety measures was last modified: November 12th, 2019 by Rachel McLaughlinShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Asked about contemporary baseball, Will Clark stops just short of telling kids to get off the grass

first_imgClick here if you’re having trouble viewing these videos on a mobile device.Terrific news from Will’s World, where Will Clark still knows what to do with a big, fat pitch.He got a peach at the outset of his appearance Tuesday on KNBR’s Tolbert & Lund show. The subject of Major League Baseball’s rules changes, both implemented and proposed, was raised. The Thrill almost came out of his shoes.“I’m not a huge rules-change guy,” said the 15-year veteran, who retired with a .303 career average. …last_img read more

“Extraordinary” Radiocarbon Anomaly Found in Tree Rings

first_imgA tree ring sample from a bristlecone pine reveals something weird happened to the sun around 5480 BC.This paper’s title should set off alarms for radiocarbon dating: “Large 14C excursion in 5480 BC indicates an abnormal sun in the mid-Holocene” (PNAS). For one thing, Christians might celebrate the apparent trend away from designating dates BCE (“before Common Era”) and back to BC (“Before Christ”). But what about this “abnormal sun”? And what does the carbon-14 anomaly mean for radiocarbon dating?Carbon-14 contents in tree rings tell us information of the past cosmic ray intensities because cosmic rays produce 14C in the atmosphere. We found a signature of a quite large increase of incoming cosmic ray intensity in the mid-Holocene (the 5480 BC event) from the measurement of 14C content in North American tree rings. The cause of this event is supposed to be an extremely weak sun, or a combination of successive strong solar bursts and variation of a solar magnetic activity. In any case, 14C variation of the 5480 BC event is extraordinary in the Holocene, and this event indicates the abnormal solar activity compared with other periods.The paper does not quantify how “extraordinary” this “large” increase was, other than to say it “one of the largest increase rates (0.51‰/y) in the Holocene,” faster even than the Maunder Minimum and two other known excursions. Unfortunately, they do not state what it means for published radiocarbon dates. The authors mainly focus on the fact that tree ring dating from this slice of California bristlecone pine provided finer resolution than previously-known anomalies—and may be indicative of other rapid changes in radiocarbon production in the atmosphere arising from different mechanisms. Readers may not be aware of the unknowns in this dating method:The 14C contents in tree rings are normally affected by the solar magnetic activities and the geomagnetic activities, which modulate the GCR flux [galactic cosmic rays] to Earth. There is an excellent tree ring record of 14C data in the international radiocarbon calibration curve IntCal. This record has a typically 10-y resolution extending to 13,900 y B.P. We can see solar and geomagnetic variations exhibited in the radiocarbon record as decadal to millennial time scale, i.e., 50- to 100-y variation such as grand solar minima, and ∼1,000-y variations of the geomagnetic dipole moment.On the other hand, there is little understanding of annual 14C variations, due to the lack of annual 14C data for periods before AD 1510. Previously, it was considered that annual variations of 14C contents do not change rapidly because the original signal is diluted and attenuated by the carbon cycle. Although most of annual 14C data show a gradual variation, there are some periods that show significant and rapid annual changes. The AD 775 and AD 994 (or AD 993) events are two examples of large changes, which occur at annual resolution. The 14C variation of these two events have a characteristic increase over 1 y to 2 y followed by a decay that reflects a rapid input of cosmic rays to the atmosphere within 1 y and the decay by the global carbon cycle. The most likely explanation of these events is that they were the result of extreme SPEs [solar proton events], based on verifications of annual 14C measurements using worldwide tree samples and annual 10Be measurements in ice cores from Antarctica and Greenland. It is possible that there were more annual cosmic ray events like the 775 event and even other types of annual rapid 14C variation in the past.What’s notable is that this “extraordinary” and “large” anomaly was just discovered after decades of trust in radiocarbon dating. Experts have their calibration curves, which are supposed to tell technicians how to account for anomalies. Now, here’s another “excursion” away from the norm. Some process, whether the sun or galactic cosmic rays,  may have produced more 14C than expected that year (however reliable the date 5480 BC can be regarded). If so, it seems likely that radiocarbon dates would be off by some unspecified amount. Perhaps it is not a big adjustment. But how many more excursions will surface in the future? What other unknown unknowns give false confidence in this highly-regarded dating method? Their last sentence sounds a warning: “In any case, the 14C variation of the 5480 BC event indicates an unprecedented anomaly in solar activity compared to other periods.”We alert interested geophysicists to this paper and solicit comments. Does it having any significant bearing on radiocarbon dates? (Visited 336 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Benjamin Logan AFNR students “soil your undies” soil test

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The Benjamin Logan AFNR students participated in an odd but helpful soil test these past two months. The students each got a pair of white cotton underwear and they buried them around the Benjamin Logan land lab and field. The students left the underwear in the ground for two months. The object of this test is to see how healthy the soil is by seeing how much of the underwear are left. The less of the underwear that are left the healthier the soil. This is because of the microbial activity. This past week the students dug up their underwear and were able to evaluate the health of the soil. The area by the creek had the most microbial activity. This project was found on modern farmer ( This is a good test that the students can do back at home on their own ground.last_img read more

The Pros and Cons of the Google Nexus One As An Enterprise Phone

first_imgalex williams IT + Project Management: A Love Affair “The iPhone is much more mature in this area than the Nexus One. iPhone configuration profiles provides business IT with a way to configure the iPhone over the air and according to corporate policies. In addition, the iPhone 3GS provides device encryption to help meet corporate compliance requirements, ensuring the protection of sensitive corporate information.” Related Posts Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… It’s Not an iPhoneThe iPhone has tight security features baked into it, and hardware encryption, too. Applications are tightly controlled with a centralized point for distributing applications. This may prove to be a temporary advantage for the iPhone over the Nexus One.According to Dearing:“The Nexus One is less secure than the iPhone 3GS. Nexus One is currently running on Android 2.1, the latest update, so is equivalent to iPhone 1.0. The iPhone 3GS provide the most comprehensive security controls with the addition of hardware-based encryption.” The Nexus One is another smart phone that we will inevitably see inside the walls of the enterprise. Smart phones seem to have a way of being used for all kinds of work activities.So, what are the pros and cons of using the Nexus One in the enterprise?First off, anyone using the Nexus One in the enterprise will be using a rogue device. That’s just the way it is. Perhaps that may change when the enterprise wakes up and realizes that people born after 1982 want to use any device to connect in any way they want. But that’s the future, unfortunately. In the meantime, let’s look at reality.ComplianceThe Nexus One was not built as a device that meets compliance requirements. As with almost any device, compliance is a reality in the enterprise world. We doubt, though, this will stop most users. You Can Make it CompliantDan Dearing of Trust Digital has a few points of advice for the IT manager with the foresight to deal proactively with the inevitability that the Nexus One will become his or her problem to solve:Make sure that the device can be locked and swiped of its data if a user loses their Nexus One.Make sure Exchange ActiveSync is installed on the device so permissions for accessing data can be set up according to the policy set by the enterprise. Provide the ability to configure the device to remotely provision application clients and device interfaces used to reach the application source (e.g. Wi-Fi, VPN).Allow for PKI support that allows Android devices to receive and ingest digital certificates. The use of certificates helps automate connectivity to enterprise applications via Wi-Fi, VPN and web by making authentication transparent to users. Hooray – It’s Not an iPhoneThe Nexus One is a cloud-connected device, making it a true web-based, data-driven device. This to us is a huge advantage. Apple is playing catch up in developing a cloud infrastructure. Google may lose a bit on security but the ability to use the computing power of the cloud may be what shoots Google way ahead of Apple. Tim O’Reilly goes as far to say that at some point, Apple may never catch up.A Strong StartThe Nexus One represents a very strong start for Google. It’s not designed as an enterprise phone but generally smart phones are meant to be used universally. We expect that as more smart phones enter the market, an ecosystem of middleware providers will emerge. These services will provide filters, treating the device as a computer, much like desktops and laptops. Tags:#enterprise#news 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of…last_img read more

ReadWriteWeb Events Guide, 15 Jan. 2011

first_img8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Tags:#conferences#Events Guide#web We’re always on the lookout for upcoming Web tech events from around world. Know of something taking place that should appear here? Want to get your event included in the calendar? Let us know in the comments below or email us. Related Posts Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hostingcenter_img ReadWrite Sponsors Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…last_img read more

Flatrock Passive: Framing and Insulating an Interior Service Wall

first_img RELATED ARTICLES Adding the insulationChoosing insulation for the interior service wall was challenging. I originally thought that I would do the work myself with batts. Intimidation set in once I realized how many wires, plumbing pipes, receptacles, and mechanical elements are integrated into the walls. Reading an article by Allison Bailes on insulation installation quality made me wonder whether it would even be possible to get a Class I installation in walls with so many complications.Luckily, Bill Gifford of Home Shield Insulation, the insulator for my attic spaces, also knows a thing or two… or three… about dense-packing fiberglass. He uses the Owens Corning ProPink wall insulation system, which is really a type of BIBS (Blown In Blanket system).The system involves stapling a breathable, semi-stretchy fabric to the service walls. The fabric is cut to allow for wall penetrations like electrical boxes, pipes, etc. Then, a pointy ended pipe attached to a flexible hose is pushed through the blanket in several places and the insulation fills the cavity. It is not quite as simple as that, so I’ll elaborate.Blowing the insulation into the walls is very methodical and appears to be an art of sorts. Bill typically starts in the bottom corner of a stud cavity and angles the pipe towards the corner. As the corner fills, the sound of the air coming out of the pipe changes, and the flow rate of the insulation delivery basically stops once the dense packing is complete for the settings on his machine. As soon as the pipe is moved, the insulation starts flowing again. A cavity can be filled pretty quickly.I suspect Bill’s technique has been developed after years of doing this type of insulation system. He interacts fluidly with the delivery hose. Once dense packing is complete in one area of the cavity, he moves the delivery pipe to another, stabs a hole and starts filling again. He was able to complete the insulation upstairs in one day. Editor’s Note: This is one of a series of blogs by David Goodyear describing the construction of his new home in Flatrock, Newfoundland, the first in the province built to the Passive House standard. The first installment of the GBA blog series was titled An Introduction to the Flatrock Passive House. For a list of Goodyear’s earlier blogs on this site, see the “Related Articles” sidebar below; you’ll find his complete blog here. Grading the Installation Quality of InsulationService Cavities for Wiring and PlumbingGetting to Know Spider Insulation Our plan of attack from the beginning was to erect all exterior service walls first and then frame the interior partitions later. The plans called for 2×4 framing 24 inches on center. The framers worked pretty quickly, and the service walls were nearly complete in just two days. To strengthen the interior petitions and service walls, we installed staggered blocking at half height to help prevent the studs from bowing, warping and twisting (see Image #2 below).Now it’s starting to look like a house!Because we would be installing drywall returns around all windows, I opted to add 1/2-inch slots to the window frames at the time they were made. To make the lives of the drywall installers easier, the rough stud openings had to align with the drywall returns so shims would not have to be used.The exterior service walls sit on 1 1/2-inch-thick strips of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam. The foam prevents thermal bridging through the bottom wall plate to the concrete stem wall foundation. We attached the service wall to the 2×8 exterior stud wall with 5-inch #10 screws, toed through top and bottom plates. To ensure the walls were straight, we placed shims behind the screw locations and straightened the wall with string lines. Once straightened, the wall was secured by driving the screw though the top plate of the service walls, through the OSB and into the exterior wall plates.center_img Testing the resultIt took about two days to staple the fabric and two days to complete the insulation installation. After installation was complete, he carried out some quality assurance testing with an Inspect-R gauge, a device which measures R-values using compressed air (see Image #4 below). Values acquired for the gauge were higher than 0.65, so we have at least R-15 in the interior service wall.Besides the fact that the R-value is higher than typical batts for a 2×4 cavity, the filling is much better. The insulation fills everything: it works around electrical boxes, between wires, etc. No cutting, splitting and pulling batts into place. This is a great wall system. I am much happier now looking at pink walls! I have been staring at studs for much too long. The structure is now starting to look like a house.Things are warming up! Before Christmas, the building was cold and I found it unbearable while working. The electrical inspection passed and the service was hooked up to the pole on December 22. Since then the heat has been on. Heating up a cold structure is no small feat. The amount of thermal mass in the concrete slab alone is huge, i.e. about 25 cubic meters. I estimated that it would take almost 300 kWh of electricity to bring it up to temperature!Thick walls and lots of material make for a slow heating process. With temporary construction heaters running we have chewed through almost 1500 kWh just bringing the house up to temperature. The heating load has decreased considerably since the temperature inside has leveled. The load does appear to be related to the number of people working in the house and whether or not it’s a sunny day. I have nothing quantitative at this point but it looks like the house is behaving as it should! Tackling the stairsI had been dreading the stairs because I had never worked on a staircase before. My plan was to build the rough staircase so it could be capped later. Quite a bit of planning had to go into this. I had to ensure that all the components were offset from the walls to account for drywall and a skirt board, and make sure I had room for railings.Another reason I dreaded the staircase was because the house plans called for a winder stair in order to make up the number of stairs required for the 9-foot ceilings. The winder looked confusing. However, once I investigated further I determined that two risers and a landing would work fine. The rest of the staircase just worked out. The rise and run meet code and will be very similar in feel to the staircase in my current house.There were no details in the plans about connecting interior walls to the service walls. Blocking seemed like a good method to get more insulation into the service wall, and it also provided a place to nail drywall (see Image #3 below).The weather has turned cold — then warm — then cold again. While working at the house I have had a lot of time to assess how the house behaves. With no heat source in the house and many cloudy days, the house cooled a lot. One day when it turned 14°C outside (57°F), I walked into the house and it was like an icebox! I could see my breath!Twenty-four hours later it felt just as cold and I could still see my breath despite 24 hours of warmer than seasonal temperatures. Having the sun shining the past couple of days has been welcomed. It has warmed the space significantly. Despite not having any attic insulation yet, I am pleased with the way the house responds to exterior temperature swings. It really goes to show that air sealing plays a huge part in energy savings. BLOGS BY DAVID GOODYEAR Air Sealing the PenetrationsBlower Door Test Comes Up RosesWrapping Up the Air BarrierInsulation and an Air BarrierInstalling Windows and DoorsFoam Sheathing and Window DetailsFraming and Air SealingA Well Insulated SlabFootings and Frost WallsA Final Design and Energy ModelingAn Introduction to the Flatrock Passive Houselast_img read more